By SAMANTHA PIDDE

Work has already begun in converting Timber Lake Playhouse into a year-round theater.

Electric wiring was added to the outside of the theater last week and TLP Executive Director Dan Danielowski said he expected framing lumber to arrive this week for the winterization project, which will enclose the theater's current porch (lobby) and box office.

Danielowski said stone pillars and six 10-inch-wide sliding pocket glass doors will be installed in the front of the building and the sides will be enclosed. The pocket doors will allow TLP to continue to keep the area open during the summer season and shut the area during bad weather and the winter months.

The project also includes cutting into the concrete floor of the lobby, the addition of insulation in the lobby ceiling and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the theater and lobby.

Danielowski anticipates the work will by complete by mid-summer, noting that TLP has scheduled the work so it should not impact the 2019 summer season.

The winterization project will cost almost $200,000, with over half of it covered by a state grant. TLP was recently awarded a $95,755.58 Tourism Attraction Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Office of Tourism. The rest of the cost will be raised by TLP through donations.

"This grant needs matching funds," said Danielowski. "The theater has to raise a little over $100,000 to complete the match on this project."

Danielowski said TLP has received a commitment from a local donor who will match any donations up to $100,000. For every dollar donated to TLP capital project s, it will raise $2 for TLP.

Danielowski said he is excited to see this project moving forward and allowing TLP to provide more programming.

"We have had a lot of requests from the public to expand TLP's season. We have expanded about as much as we can with the present facility," said Danielowski, adding, "With this grant opportunity, it allowed us to make upgrades to the facility to expand into the colder months of the year."

This year TLP has added a seventh production, "Disney's Newsies," from Sept. 12-22. Danielowski said TLP will probably expand its season this year until December.

"We haven't settled on programming yet, but we will probably expand our Haunted October, add concerts in November and perform our Christmas show at the theatre in December," Danielowski said.

The winterization project is part of a much larger one planned at TLP, with the theater embarking on a $1.4 million capital campaign. Danielowski said TLP is currently looking at its "full facility needs."

“We will be announcing our other facility needs in the very near future and making this the kickoff to improving facilities throughout the TLP campus," he said.

Donations can be called in to the box office at 815-244-2035, or mailed to Timber Lake Playhouse, 8215 Black Oak Rd., Mount Carroll, IL, 61053. Put “Fund The Need” in the memo line.